When Happiness & Joy Arise, Watch Out for This Dangerous Tendency

timeless-beauty-capturing-ancient-greek-goddess-athena-ultrarealistic-splendor_960911-22041I was a couple of months into a new relationship, so very much in the honeymoon phase.

This romance had caught me by surprise. I’d been online dating for a few months and it had been a comical, lukewarm experience.

This beautiful man, however, I had met in real life. He asked me out in person, off the apps entirely. I had next to no expectations for us and yet somehow found myself swept off my feet, feeling all the in-love, fluttery feelings I stupidly thought I had outgrown.

Being older, experienced, and aware of the intoxication of this phase I knew that it just couldn’t last.

So I found myself asking, while in deep telephone conversation with him one night: how long before we get tired of each other, do you think?

I had tossed it out as kind of light, flirty, jokey, aware.

Of course, the question belied my own insecurity and a kind of protective need for inoculation against what I viewed as inevitable pain. Right now things are good and it can’t last. Obviously.

Instead of answering me in a light, flirty way he was silent for a bit and tried to answer my question seriously.

Which woke me up in that moment very, very abruptly.

Why was I asking a question whose answer I didn’t want to hear or experience?

We humans do this kind of thing a lot when things are going well. We begin to get fearful. Things can’t stay so good. The other shoe’s has got to drop soon! What’s about to happen? How can I best prepare myself for the inevitable worst?

Of course, there are reasons for this. I appreciate what Brene Brown says about it which is basically we’re terrified of joy because we’re terrified of being vulnerable so we try ‘to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch.’

It’s vulnerable to care about people so much. It’s vulnerable to have such sweet, deep connections because the reality is all of it does end one day. We will feel pain at losing what we love.

Brene says the key is to be grateful. And I love this and agree.

Being truly grateful allows us presence in the moment. All of us will die one day. All of what we have will turn to dust. In this moment, though, we can be grateful.

When we can be in the present moment gratitude, instead of asking what will go wrong, we can orient ourselves towards what can go right…bringing us to the magic question:

How does it get better?

It took a me a minute but when I saw what was happening in that phone conversation with my boyfriend, I stopped him.

I didn’t want to know the answer to that stupid question, I really wanted to know: ‘How does it get better?’

‘How does it get better?’ has become something of a mantra. I pull it out in the joyous moments with him. And even when I think things can’t get any better, somehow they do.

It’s not to say things are perfect, that there are no hiccups, no tough spots. Of course there are.

But the relationship and our time together keep exceeding my expectations and the limits of my known experience.

So now I try to catch myself in the questions I ask in all areas of my life — do I actually want to have this answered? Do I want to be orienting towards this answer?

This is a practice. We likely ask a lot more questions than we realize — especially in the realm of our thoughts and mental chatter.

It certainly doesn’t work if we’re in a bad situation where we feel miserable or despairing to ask how it gets better. It can land as a futile, sarcastic, offensive, or even bypassing question.

But we can always look towards a better question and an orientation more towards what we do want such as “What can I appreciate right now?” Maybe it’s sunshine and cool breezes. Maybe it’s having my warm coat on this cold miserable day.

I did something like this the other week as I found myself incredibly grumpy and irritable coming home from downtown (a place I often loathe being).

I sat on the streetcar and watched my irritation grow as I found ways to privately complain about nearly every person I saw.

I asked myself — what could I look at with appreciation? What are some things that I like right now and that are pleasing to me?

I began to pick out colors of the clothes people were wearing, and some of the styles. I noted art on the street that I could appreciate. I saw many dogs who brought a smile to my eyes with their sweetness and innocence.

I continued that for the entire trip and when I got off the streetcar, my grumpiness had left me.

I continue to find that the right questions are truly magical and offer us a solid way forward in this maze of life. If you find that that the track you’re on isn’t quite what you want, I invite you to look at the questions you are asking.

Where do you really want to go? What are the answers you really want to know?

Ask those questions.


One Way to Truly Make the Holiday Season Joyful

Liberation Through Feeling Your FeelingsThe marketing messages would have you think this holiday season is all about joy. For most of my life that message has landed like a massive gaslight.

I know I’m far from the only one for whom this season evokes a lot of grief.

And even though we don’t like talking so much about things that don’t feel good or run counter to the narrative that many want, I think it good to talk about.

Yes, of course there’s grief.

In our personal lives, the holidays can be a reminder of those who’ve passed and whose physical presence is no longer with us.

Collectively, of course we feel grief at all that is happening in the world. If you are not feeling some grief, you are not paying attention to what’s going on.

We don’t typically allow much space for grief amongst all the joy we’re supposed to feel. Grief just brings things down for everyone, I suppose.

Well, I encourage us all to honour and feel our grief.

Not to suppress it as we’ve been taught to do or to put some arbitrary time limit around it.

And importantly, not to fear our grief.

I think why grief is so challenging for us is because it forces us to confront our helplessness. Grief is a loss over which we have no control nor any recourse. There is absolutely nothing we can do to change what’s happened.

In our dominance-based, mind over matter, control-loving society this is incredibly hard to accept.

So instead we seek to exert control over how much this hurts us. We try to control feeling it.

We may think this strategy will work but ultimately it never can. This energy to control, dominate and deny the grief becomes a lot more work and more of a beast than actually feeling the grief.

Feeling the grief requires us to face our helplessness, our humanness. Of course there is pain with this, and fear. None of this feels sexy or powerful.

Many of us are are also caught up in the idea that we have to stay positive. In order to heal, we have to stop dwelling or being caught up in the negative emotions I am told.

Which is a fundamental misunderstanding. We can’t build anything lasting on top of unstable ground.

It is actually allowing yourself to feel all of the emotions – including the ones that feel bad, scary, painful, hard – that allows one to stabilize that ground for something new and strong to built upon.
What happens when you allow yourself to feel the grief? What does it mean to really feel any challenging emotion?

There is some technique and skill to this. Many of us fear that we may become lost in the grief or the fear or the pain and never come back from it. (Certainly if you have experienced severe trauma, you want to take care and ensure you have a well trained facilitator or specialist.)

This act of truly feeling is new for most of us. It helps to have a skilled practitioner or group to guide you with this.

It begins with feeling your body and noticing and naming out loud the sensations you discern there.

Sometimes this is hard to describe and metaphor can even be useful here. We can tune into whether there is a temperature to it, is it tingling, buzzing. Anything.

If we are able to embody it – that is, bring our full attention and awareness to it – we may want to move or make sounds. It’s important to allow this.

Usually as we attune and get closer to the true witnessing and feeling of the emotion, something about it may shift. We may feel a release or we may get information about it in the form of a memory or a piece of wisdom for us.

But likely not on our timeline. It doesn’t work to force or expect or demand. This work takes time and so much permission.

I’ll tell you a bit about grief and how I’ve experienced it in my life.

The first time I really understood and was able to name what I was feeling as grief was as my mom was dying. At that time, I had a strong yoga practice as well as a couple of years of chiropractic care all of which had been moving me more towards understanding the importance of embodiment – feeling things in my body and letting them flow.

When I connected to my grief – because my mom was dying and there was nothing I could do to change that – the sensations that would most often arise would be this weird feeling in my throat like pop rocks candy going off in there alongside a kind of dark choking kind of feeling.

As I let myself feel it, I would cry and cry. Sometimes it became outright sobbing.

Often this would overtake me in public places. Many times in the first couple of years after she passed I would end up stopped, overcome and sitting on a city bench crying.

This is part of what makes it hard for people. This feels so vulnerable to be so – what – weak? Or perceived as weak? Or crazy?

All those times though I don’t think anyone ever truly noticed. Everyone is too busy in their phones first of all and second of all, everyone is concerned and in their heads about themselves.

Second, there was something about this loss that was so precious and deep that something so trivial about looking weak or pathetic to someone just couldn’t touch it. I didn’t care.

Does it make you uncomfortable? Fuck if I care. I’m grieving my mama.

And more than that, I realize now, I was honouring and taking care of myself. We can’t be healthy for long if we’ve got these trapped emotions taking up space and eating away at us inside (in combination with the resources we’re using not to feel them means so much diminishing of our life force energy).

Now, the thing is grief (or any emotion) will feel different for you. I’ve experienced grief in other ways in my body as well.

We have assigned words for delineating emotions and isn’t as helpful as some of us think. For example if I’m angry and I check into my body it will feel different than what you feel when you are angry.

If we aren’t aware of this and practicing this checking in, we can, and do often, mislabel what we are feeling. We may think and say we’re angry for example but what we really are is afraid. How will we know? By going into the body sensations.

It’s important to know this. It means that simply naming an emotion will not allow us to heal or move through it. Because we will all feel it in different ways and places and therefore require different remedies to moving with them.

Here’s the thing about grief though. If you’re able to sit and be with it long enough, you’ll come to something else underneath it.

That something else is love.
We only grieve the loss of someone or something that we’ve loved, that we’ve cherished, that meant something to us.

When we can stay long enough with the grief to finally feel the love underneath it, we can perhaps get to knowing and feeling that the love can hold the grief.

The love is big enough and strong enough to hold the grief.

Having to now experience the grief is worth it to have known this kind of love.

Some of you may disagree and say, Lana, no. This pain is so bad.
And I would say: yes it is. And you haven’t allowed yourself to feel it all. There will be more. This isn’t a one-time pain.

It’s 12 years since my mom died and I did cry a bit writing this.

Surrender and feel it all to find the love.

Nothing short of that is going to work.

You may think you’re going to die. Yes, in a sense you will die and it will feel torturous but isn’t it a worse insanity to fight your whole life something inevitable and unchangeable.

I still grieve, I still feel pain but it’s become more exquisite now. It gives me so much compassion. It’s allowed me so much liberation.

Feeling grief has finally made space for joy – true joy.

I want that for you too.

Love,
Lana


Transformation: We Want It & It Scares Us

Transformation by Robert Lovejoy

Transformation by Robert Lovejoy

The other week I watched my niece, 7 month-old Kat, on her belly getting set to crawl.

I had seen her and Mira (my sister) about 4 days earlier and enough time had elapsed for very visible change. Kat felt weightier, heartier, even more energetic. Watching young ones during these times of rapid development is such a gift!

It is possible to literally watch her grow.

So I did. I watched her as she squirmed on her belly. Mira said she is a minute away from crawling. And it’s true. She shimmies. She moves. She swerves. She uses her hands, her arms, her feet, her legs, her belly. She uses everything she has. She’s propelled forward by her curiosity, her interest in that colourful thing in front of her, that place she wants to get to.

Pushing, grunting, working.

A short time ago, I watched another baby a few months older who has mastered crawling and can shoot swiftly across a room before you’ve even had a chance to blink.

Consider how one’s world opens up?

I was taking all of this in while watching Kat, wondering if this was going to be the moment. Would I get to witness the moment of transformation?

This is the moment life evolves. The moment after which nothing is ever the same again.

And, while I have the privilege of watching her and knowing what is coming up, she herself doesn’t know. She doesn’t know how much more exciting and interesting life is about to get.

Watching her, and really getting into the energy and the electricity around this impending milestone, I had a new appreciation and understanding of transformation.

The nature, and the very definition, of transformation is that we CANNOT know what awaits us on the other side.

Transformation requires some blind faith, requires that we give up trying to know or control what awaits us, requires giving up the expectation of a reward or gain, requires us to continue driving forward, propelled, unconcerned with failure, innocent, untroubled by the unknown.

To just keep going with no guarantees that anything awaits us on the other side.

Lots of us get to a point where we are done. We’ve learned and mastered all there is, we think. Maybe we are complacent. Maybe resigned. Like that’s all there is, at least for us anyway. Let someone smarter/richer/stronger do the other stuff. I’m fine

I’ve been there. A lot.

Where have we given up? And why?

Are we really okay with what is so or are we in some denial about some nagging feelings of regret or anxiety that stir around just under the surface?

Do we have to wait until our present situation is so bad, so untenable, that the only choice we have is to leap. Aren’t we there yet??

Present day mystic and spiritual teacher, Caroline Myss, refers to us humans as being in a time of predicament. It isn’t that we have a lot of problems in need of solutions. We, humans, are in a time of predicament with regards to our survival on the earth.

There are no solutions to predicaments. Predicaments must call forth transformation. Transformation starts with me. And it starts with you.

The more we are willing, and we allow ourselves to be in this uncomfortable space, the more we make it possible for others to do the same.

Where is it in life that it would serve to keep plugging away, squirming, getting sweaty, being okay with the discomfort, grunting, working…without attachment or knowing what it will bring? Without any measurable, visible show of progress?

Can we be okay with failing over and over and over again? And still getting on with the work anyway without any guarantee that anything will happen.

It’s actually an electrifying and powerful place to come from.

Of course, many of us are dealing with a lot of trauma. It may be here that we need to start.

Truly consider that our collective lives on Earth depend on our willingness and capacity to transform and throw ourselves into the scary unknown.

I share these insights and experiences on transformation here because the work we do here is transformational in nature. Reclaiming our Feminine selves is powerful. It can feel scary. It is diving into the unknown. But I’ve never known anyone who would go back to the time before.

You know, before crawling.


Why Some Women Have Difficulty Conceiving

womb healing fertility toronto

Rainbow Spider Woman, Giclee’ by Sheranda Ann Kumara

Most of us are in a state of considerable disconnection from our wombs. It’s not our fault.

We’re not taught how to have a relationship with our wombs. Much of the world still struggles with wanting to maintain control over what happens here, and in our bodies in general.

We store a lot of trauma and shame, whether we are aware of it or not. Our wombs are a repository, a living memory container not just for our own pain but the pain we inherited down from the ancestral line.

As a result, far too many of us have painful periods or some kind of cycle-related dysfunctions that affects nearly every aspect of our lives.

Furthermore, it can be really hard to talk about this. We may feel stuck and alone.

Conventional medicine often has little to offer and when it tries, it’s typically from the framework of how to ‘fix’ periods and women’s problems versus acknowledge the bias and misogyny that exists and causes the problems to begin with.

This space of the womb is highly beyond our control.

The womb, in fact, is in charge. We are better off to befriend and surrender to its wisdom. And I know, this isn’t something we are easily able to do.

I mean, how outrageous and backward might it seem to even be reading this? Reduced to a womb?

But the womb is so much more – wisdom, aliveness, creativity, power – than we know.

Beyond just making physical life, our wombs contain intuition, guidance, safety, and inspiration.

Even if your mind *knows* this to be true, is it actually how you feel about, and relate to, your womb?

Consider that before we can conceive a baby here, we need to clear and prepare the space.

We may need to deal with what may be there festering – and I’m referring to the emotions and energy.

We have to listen and hear the needs of the womb and this relationship will likely take some time to form trust.

The reality is not everyone will be able to conceive of course. However, healing IS available for us all.

It doesn’t mean there is no grief ever or no sadness.

But we can feel great about ourselves as feminine beings. We can feel whole and in love with who we are, just as we are.

We can find an unconditional and whole-hearted acceptance of ourselves. No matter what.

I don’t know what the specific answer or path for any one woman is.

But I know that your womb space knows.

With Love,

Lana

 


The first time, I didn’t want to…

Lana, 2012

Lana, 2012

Some of you have heard me say this… my first experience with the Art of Feminine Presence was somewhat … underwhelming.

The experience was via an introduction night which I attended out of curiosity, and because I was going to be around anyway. I had no idea what to expect and likely some guard up going in.

In the evening I did have moments of thinking ‘hmm, interesting’ and also ‘oh, weird!’

And while I didn’t sign up at that time to do any further work with the presenting instructor, I did receive an important insight into myself. Which was that I had no idea really of what the Feminine meant to me. The Feminine as I personally related to her was rather foreign; any inkling that I did harbour somewhere was flimsy, diminutive to the extreme. I was a bit stunned.

(And, I see now years later, rather ashamed about it… to be so confronted with my own ignorance and prejudice even after all the work I’d done up to that point.)

The next day, unexpectedly, I had a chance to talk to the same instructor, the teacher from the night before. That was when we had met, we didn’t know each other at all. During our conversation she said something to me so random and out of the blue, that I knew it was the Universe speaking to me directly. Indicating that, despite my resistance, this was something I should do.  (Indeed, when I asked her about this later, she said she had no idea why she had said this thing)

Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to attend these classes of hers once my prior commitment ended and once she had space in the circle.

Have you ever had that experience of resisting something (perhaps even a person!) only to have it (them) persist in showing up in your face? I can find it somewhat reassuring – like, even if my ego stands in the way of what is good for me, the Universe will not give up on showing me the path of my own highest good. But… I also find it annoying. It’s uncomfortable too, isn’t it?

This is also what has me feel very understanding of some of the women I encounter who feel this resistance in the face of strong indications that it should be a ‘yes.’

There is no need to force anything and, also, comfort is not always our friend. Sometimes we need a nudge, sometimes a push. And better to surrender at that point until it becomes something along the lines of a shove (such as pain, illness, loss).

It worked out to 4 months  after that introduction that I made it to my first, real Art of Feminine Presence circle. Again, I had no idea what to expect and perhaps had I known, I would have made some effort to participate sooner…  more on that soon.


The People Who Hold You

Painting by artist Varsha Kharatamal

Painting by artist Varsha Kharatamal

For many people, the expectation exists that friends and family (especially our partner) are going to be able to provide all the emotional support we need and we rely on them for such. Often though the people who we’ve known the longest are the most reluctant and unwilling to see us change. Are unable to see us in a new light or support us in the transformation or explorations we need to make in life.

This does not necessarily mean that we must cut people out of our lives (though sometimes that may be the appropriate thing to do). What it does mean for people on a path of growth and transformation is that we find other spaces and people who can hold us for the new possibilities we are living into. It is important that we find like-minded souls who have no baggage or history with us to entangle us in past patterns.

I’ve heard it said by a lot of people that it is hard to make friends as adults. I have found the opposite to be true. Many of the most substantive and beautiful friendships I have right now are with people I met when I was in my mid to late 30s. And as I expect meaningful connections to continue, they have done so.

The more I am able to expand my circles and be witnessed, held and supported in transformation the better I am when I return to those challenging scenarios with people I love but who are invested in seeing me in only one way from a long time ago.

This is some of what we get in the Art of Feminine Presence circles (if this resonates, please check it out and fill out the form for a chat or come visit us at an introduction).

Whatever that space is for you, I hold that you find it and that you flourish.

Painting by Varsha Kharatamal

P.S.

Have you heard the saying that ‘blood is thicker than water’? Did you know that it was cut down from the original?

The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb


Making Sparks

Art by Autumn Skye Morrison

Art by Autumn Skye Morrison

I had made all sorts of judgments about this man based on his clothes, his stance, his manner of speaking. I discerned in my mind his intelligence, his interests, essentially his value. I had him pegged pretty early and quickly. I didn’t give much thought to whether it was true or not. He was kind of amusing to me from afar and didn’t have much to offer me.

Then on this night when the community was having a party, he came over to stand beside me.

He put his hand on my shoulder and asked me a question.

In those few seconds a lot could have taken hold of my attention but what was most palpable to me were not his actions or his words but rather his energy.

And my response to it

Which was fully

Pulled in and

Drawn to his.

He *felt* fantastic to me. Cat nip. Like if we were to picture or imagine energy as the field around me, every part of it suddenly felt amazing, buzzing and tingling with his. No gaps, no icky feelings, no lack of clarity, no doubts. I just wanted to stand in this and drink it in for as long as it existed. I felt so much pleasure with our energy mixing just standing there.

Given the manner in which my eyes and ears had perceived and discounted him, I was so utterly surprised.

The night before had another man approach me.  Different dude, different energy. He came on to me gently but undeniably. Again, I didn’t expect it but I was curious about the energy thing so I spent some time with him, let him tell me about his life philosophy and ways.

And while we had some laughs and some fun moments, the energy wasn’t quite matching up. He wasn’t quite hitting the mark, I wasn’t losing myself in these moments. Things were coming up a bit short and I was distracted and feeling disappointed that.

It’s all about energy.

If the energy is a match between two people, it creates an unpredictable, delightful magic. And I’ve found it often won’t correspond to what the eyes find pretty and delicious. Maybe this is why so many of us end up unfulfilled. Allowing the eyes to determine the criteria and taking our cues from there, we’ve already potentially cut off our best, most feel-sensational matches.

And it goes the other way too. If we spend significantly more time and effort on our external appearance rather than cultivating, exploring and enjoying our energy then we aren’t going to be attracting our highest matches (whether it’s for pleasure, knowledge, marriage or business)

Like I did with the first dude when I determined I knew exactly what he was all about. Because ultimately what I then was able to discover was how layered, nuanced and interesting he actually is. And moreover, what he had to teach me about myself.

So the moral of the story? If you want to find happiness, delight, knowing, sexual satisfaction work on your energy and presence. It’s a dynamic, ever-flowing, shifting experience of life.

This is what we do here #livingfemininepresence


Of Men and Bleeding

Art: by Alain Bonnefoit

Art: by Alain Bonnefoit

I was 24 and just a few weeks into a new relationship. When my blood started, he rented some videos for us to watch. He went to pick up supplies and comfort foods. And he held my hurting belly and rubbed my aching back as we curled up and watched the kind of rom-com movies I only enjoy at this time.

It was like a dream come true. His loving gestures made for the most exquisite experience of a period I’d ever had up until that time. It was probably that day I really fell in love with him…

A few months in, it got even better. He wanted to make love to me on my period and get as intimate as he could with my blood. I was reluctant, squeamish, concerned, self-conscious.

Not him. It was a level of intimacy that he craved. And I did too but maybe never dreamed believe it was possible.

See, the guy I had been seeing right before was the polar opposite. He was squeamish, ignorant, judgmental about blood. He would comment on it being that time of the month if I was standing my ground. The one time he dared experiment with sex, he ended it about after a minute when he saw my blood on his belly. I knew from the start it was doomed…

But I stayed longer than I should have. I didn’t have a lot of experience with more enlightened males. I had no brothers so very few male figures in my life save my father. And that man was a relic from an older time. One time I got into SERIOUS trouble when I forgot to toss out a pad and my father went into the bathroom after me to discover it there. Lying there. Exposed and offending his eyes and his maleness. As if I did it deliberately. As if it did personal harm to him. Like, no kidding.

So it’s how I grew up. These things were not to be mentioned! And if and when they were, there would be scorn, mockery, derision. No wonder my periods growing up and for much of my adult life were so excruciating and painful.

So it was such a gift to encounter this man in my adult life. He allowed me to see that there could be beauty and joy during my bleeding. I felt loved. I felt that this blood was sacred, beautiful. This gift changed the course and experience of my life and I am so very grateful.

It’s the manner in which men have impacted my experience with menstruation. How has it been for you?

Art: by Alain Bonnefoit